Fantasy Football: Don’t Buy Into The Hype of the Rookie Runners

Who knew that fantasy football could be so complicated? Up to thirty running backs selected in the 2017 NFL Draft season are expected to make a noticeable impact in fantasy football in the immediate future, and you can only imagine what that will do for the NFL betting picks for the 2018 season.

Rookies like Christian McCaffrey, Leonard Fournette, and Joe Mixon were selected in the first fifteen rounds of the ten-team NFL.Com draft. If that wasn’t enough, there is no end to the level of hype analysts are raising over Jamaal Williams, Kareem Hunt and Joe Williams.

It is hardly surprising that everyone expects depth charts to be dominated by these youngsters and more. And you would be hard-pressed to make a solid argument suggesting that this hype isn’t warranted.

Then again, does it make sense to overvalue players that haven’t even run a lap on an NFL gridiron? And it isn’t like this sort of hype has produced notable results in the past. Prognostications about rookies, especially the optimistic kind, rarely end well. Just look at DeMarco Murray. Everyone thought that his time with the Tennessee Titans was over after Derrick Henry, a Heisman winner was drafted. Murray went on to dominate that season.

If that sounds like it could be an isolated case, consider this; of all the rookie runners that have risen in the last decade, only two dozen have appeared in the top 25 in fantasy points. If those numbers do not make sense to you, that means only three rookie runners a year ranked in the top 25.

Whenever the draft season comes around and the hype surrounding rookies begins to rise, analysts and fans like to throw out names like Matt Forte, Chris Johnson and Jonathan Stewart from 2008. Those guys made it to the top 10 and it was a big deal. But one cannot ignore the fact that Rashard Mendenhall, Jamaal Charles and other high profile runners performed well below expectations.

Looking at the 2012 class, you can point to Doug Martin, Trent Richardson, and Alfred Morris as standouts. However, anyone who is anyone knows that 2012 didn’t have many talented options. The point is this: every rule has a few exceptions, and it seems a like a lot of analysts and fans in fantasy football are making their picks based on the exceptions instead of the rule.

Think about this. There have been 108 running backs in the NFL that have been selected in the first four rounds of the football draft over the previous decade. And among those running backs, only twenty-one have ever finished in the top 10.

Think about how demoralizing that figure should be, and then ask why rookie running backs are still being overvalued today.

Some rationale should be applied during the draft. And do not use the anxiety spreading online about rookie runners as an excuse to avoid rookie runners. That isn’t the take away here. The point here is this: be smart. Do not overreach for rookies. There are picks like Mixon that, while clearly impressive, should be saved for the third and the fourth rounds rather than the second. You do not want to miss on a player in the top fifty.

So, be smart.